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J Nanosci Nanotechnol. 2012 Jun;12(6):4887-91.

Oxygen reduction activity of carbon nitride supported on carbon nanotubes.

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  • 1Department of Organic and Polymeric Sciences, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Ookayama, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-8550, Japan.


Fuel cells offer an alternative to burning fossil fuels, but use platinum as a catalyst which is expensive and scarce. Cheap, alternative catalysts could enable fuel cells to become serious contenders in the green energy sector. One promising class of catalyst for electrochemical oxygen reduction is iron-containing, nanostructured, nitrogen-doped carbon. The catalytic activity of such N-doped carbons has improved vastly over the years bringing industrial applications ever closer. Stoichiometric carbon nitride powder has only been observed in recent years. It has nitrogen content up to 57% and as such is an extremely interesting material to work with. The electrochemical activity of carbon nitride has already been explored, confirming that iron is not a necessary ingredient for 4-electron oxygen reduction. Here, we synthesize carbon nitride on a carbon nanotube support and subject it to high temperature treatment in an effort to increase the surface area and conductivity. The results lend insight into the mechanism of oxygen reduction and show the potential for carbon nanotube-supported carbon nitride to be used as a catalyst to replace platinum in fuel cells.

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